KEY POINTS

  • Seven members of the U.S. Congress are in self-quarantine after interacting with people later confirmed with the coronavirus
  • The first Congressional staffer with the disease was discovered Wednesday
  • Congressional leaders will meet to discuss future action

Seven members of the U.S. Congress -- five Republicans and two Democrats -- are currently in self-quarantine after coming into contact with persons infected with COVID-19. Six are with the House while the lone senator is Republican Ted Cruz from Texas. Cruz is also the first member of Congress to go into a 14-day self-quarantine.

Republican members of the House in self-quarantine are Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, Rep. Paul Gozar, R-AZ and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC. The Democrats are Rep. Don Beyer, D-VA, and Rep. Julia Brownley, D-CA.

The growing number of members of Congress afflicted by COVID-19 can partially be explained by their accessibility to their constituents and daily interactions with people they work within and outside of Capitol Hill.

For the first time, however, a staff member for one of the Democratic senators that works on the Hill has tested positive for COVID-19 leading to concerns over widespread infection and talk of a lockdown.

On Wednesday, it was learned a staffer working for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, at her Washington D.C. office tested positive for "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)," the disease that causes COVID-19.

Cantwell’s office said this woman staffer had no known contact with the senator or other lawmakers. Confirmation of the infection, however, led Sen. Cantwell to close her D.C. office for the remainder of the week.

The senator said her other staffers will work remotely. She asked her other staffers to be tested in light of this development.

The issue of COVID-19 infections sweeping through the halls of Congress is disturbing given the massive disruption this caused Iran's parliament, the Iranian Consultative Assembly. As of Monday, 24 out of 290 members of this parliament are sick from the coronavirus. Two of these MPs have since died from the disease.

Iranian media is reporting all these lawmakers were infected over the past three weeks. As of 12:00 p.m., Thursday, Tehran time, Iran has 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 354 deaths. Iran is the third most infected country and the country with the third highest number of deaths from the disease in the world after China and Italy.

Ted Cruz A woman on Tuesday asked Texas senator Ted Cruz a question that he was not expecting. In this photo Cruz addresses the second annual Conservative Policy Summit at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2015. Photo: Getty Images/ Alex Wong